Defining Place in Dinkytown
Located on the north side of the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus, Dinkytown is a neighborhood with close ties to the University community. This spring, students in Associate Professor James Boyd Brent’s Color and Form in Surface Design class were challenged to explore the sense of place in this unique neighborhood by designing a series of handmade screen prints.
Before the designing began, Brent’s class was given a formal tour of the neighborhood by Book House owner Kristen Eide-Tollefson. “It was my great pleasure to talk with the students during their tour of Dinkytown, to give some background on the history and buildings and interesting cultural events that have been generated by the unusual coincidence of people, politics, and arts that have traditionally ‘inhabited’ Dinkytown,” said Eide-Tollefson.
A place is defined by many qualities, including its history, culture, and commercial life. In their designs, students were expected to capture and comment on the specific aspects that define Dinkytown. The handmade screen prints were printed in limited editions of six prints and consisted of three or four screen layers, a technically challenging process and one that stretched their skills.
“It’s important for students to work with their hands in order to develop their own design sensibility,” explained Brent. “As an interdisciplinary class with students from across design majors, the project was also an opportunity to expose students to a practice they might not otherwise experience.”
To celebrate their work, the students’ final prints have been curated by local artist and retired art educator Bernie Marks for an exhibit in Alpha Print. “Quite a few students produce their portfolios at Alpha Print and we wanted to display some of their work on our walls,” said Alpha Print owner Charlie Stark. “We hope that people will see the rich history, vibrancy, and hometown feel of Dinkytown [through this exhibit].”
The students’ prints can be seen now through July 14th at Alpha Print.